On the road: Langham hotel offers a British weekend
No one needs to tell a certain group of fans that a particular show's fourth season is about to show up on PBS. "Downton Abbey" aficionados may want to look into the "What is a Weekend" Package at The Langham, Chicago, part of a hotel group with rich British heritage. Named for a well-known line muttered by the Dowager Countess of Grantham, the one-night "What is a Weekend" package features access for two to the Club Lounge, where the hotel offers dedicated Butler service plus all-day refreshments including morning breakfast, a butler-drawn bath featuring Highclere Castle salts, and a special welcome amenity of champagne, a pot of tea, and scones with jam and cream. Late checkout will be extended for those who partake in afternoon tea, dahling.
Available through February. The Langham, Chicago, 333 N. Wabash Ave. "What is a Weekend" package starts at $449 plus tax, based upon availability. (312) 923-9988 or chicago.langhamhotel.com, and under reservations, enter the promo code Abbey.
Conga line to the Cultural Center
Heat up 2014 at Chicago WinterDance, a chilled version of SummerDance Chicago. WinterDance is designed for people of all ages and skill levels to join in free, introductory one-hour dance lessons guided by professional instructors followed by music and dancing. The diverse musical lineup showcases popular dance styles. The first weekend in January will see you learning Chicago Steppin,' Salsa, Milonga and Argentine Tango, you devil you.
6 to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday, Jan. 3-4; noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 5. Yates Gallery, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. Free. (312) 744-6630 or cityofchicago.org.
Everybody's talking at me
If you have a teller of tall tales in your house, consider a trip into the city to see how the pros spin fantastic yarns at the 17th annual Fillet of Solo Festival. The event is a celebration of Chicago's storytelling and live lit scene, with opportunities to catch solo and group performances throughout the three-week festival. Lifeline Theatre and Live Bait Theater bring 10 solo performers and 13 storytelling collectives together for powerful personal stories, some absurd, others touching and many funny. Each performance runs approximately 50 minutes.
7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. Saturday. Jan. 3-19. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, and Heartland Studio Theatre, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave. Chicago. Tickets are $10 for each performance, and Festival Passes are available for $30 allowing unlimited admission. (773) 761- 4477 or lifelinetheatre.com.
The antidote to cabin fever starts shortly after New Year's Day, as the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau offers a special "Winter/Spring Traverse City Escape" package. The deal combines special low rates at 19 participating Michigan hotels and resorts with a wide range of discounts on winter recreation, shopping, dining and entertainment. For winter sports fans, the packages include discounts on trail passes and snowmobile rentals. You won't go hungry with great deals at some of the area's best restaurants and take advantage of special discounts on shopping, spa treatments, movies, wine tastings and other entertainment.
Jan. 3 -May 15. Get pricing and details on the new winter packages TraverseCity.com, or call the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 940-1120.
Let others nurse their hangovers while you reach new heights at the Cool Fool Kite Festival on New Year's Day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The free event (with free parking) is a "Fun Fly," so bring your kite or pick up a kite at Gift of Wings at the park. Watch ice artists carve blocks of ice into masterpieces before your very eyes and then take an ice carving lesson of your own. A Kite Whisperer will be on hand to show everyone how to fly a kite successfully and the largest collection of giant kites will be soaring over Milwaukee's lakefront. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride and enjoy free hot chocolate, coffee and snacks compliments of Bella's Caffe.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1 Veteran's Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (414) 277-9121 or giftofwings.com
Only in Wisconsin would people brave the frigid temps on New Year's Eve in the annual worship of fish. Carp Fest in Prairie du Chien features snow sculptures, a massive arts-and-crafts show, the whacking of a carp piñata, hot-air balloon rides, and skiing, sledding or hiking by torchlight. The festival culminates with a bonfire, music, laser and pyrotechnics show and the "Droppin' of the Carp," a hefty frozen Mississippi River rough fish, at midnight. Don't miss your chance to kiss Lucky the carp for a year's worth of good fortune in 2014.
3 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday, Dec. 31. Lucky Park, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Free admission. droppingofthecarp.blogspot.com or (608) 326-7207